I've just been to our two primary schools in the Parish to distribute blessed ashes. The students excitedly queued for a blessing and delighted in sporting their ashes to each other. Some came back for more. Wearing the blessed ashes is a visible reminder that I am going to try to make a difference in Lent. Please God, I'll try a little harder. The ashes are only visible. Its what goes on behind the scenes, on the inside that counts.
So, what do I do to make that difference this Lent? Well, that's up to you. Doing some small act of self denial is always good; going off the chocolate biscuits, alcohol, sweet-things etc. I gave up sugar in tea and coffee when I was a child. I couldn't go back on it now, I'd be poisoned, it would be too sweet!
Fasting and abstinence is a time honoured way of feeling some hunger and making a sacrifice.Traditionally, we are asked to abstain from meat on Fridays and especially in Lent. Meat was seen as a luxury once, and perhaps not anymore but it's still good to abstain and make that small sacrifice. Be sensible about giving things up and self denial. And if I fall, I get up and I try again with God's help.
What about making a special effort to pay a visit to the Church each day and especially going to daily Mass? When we visit the Church, when we go to Mass, we tune into the Lord's presence. In prayer, we connect with the Divine. As one of our friars said; "We get intimate with the ultimate." And in prayer there are no calls dropped and its 'always on broadband.'
There is a lovely Menu for Lent;
Fast from resentment. Feast on kindness.
Fast from lies. Feast on the truth.
Fast from cynicsm. Feast on things that things that help.
Fast from negativity. Feast on being positive.
Fast from swearing. Feast on words that build up.
You could put in your own ideas here...
There are those who don't have to wait for Lent every year to go without. They have Lent with them all the time due to an illness other struggles. I'd like to give a plug to the Trocaire box here. It's another way of making a difference in the lives of so many who have no choice but to struggle whether its Lent or not. Lent is more what happens to us on the inside and how we reach out to others.
Blessings to you all for Lent. And remember; as Archbishop Fulton Sheen said; "We diet for the sake of the body. We fast, for the sake of the soul."